FCC Improves Emergency Alert System Messages

TV and Radio Alerts Will Be Clearer and More Accessible to the Public.

The Federal Communications Commission is updating its Emergency Alert System rules to ensure delivered over television and radio are more informative and easier to understand by the public, particularly people with disabilities.

The Emergency Alert System, which government agencies use to send alerts and warnings to the public over television and radio, is made up of both a legacy system and an internet-based system, with the latter offering superior messaging capabilities. The updated rules require broadcasters, cable systems, and other Emergency Alert System participants to transmit the internet-based version of alerts to the public, rather than the legacy version.

The increased use of internet-based alerts, in the Common Alerting Protocol format, will produce higher-quality audio messages, improve the availability of multilingual alerts, and ensure that more of the alerts displayed on television screens contain all of the information provided by governments.

The updated rules will also replace the technical jargon that accompanies specific alerts, including test messages, with plain language terms so that the visual and audio messages are clearer to the public.

According to the FCC:

As a result of today’s action by the Commission, people who are deaf or hard of hearing will have access to alerts in a viewable format that more closely matches the audible versions of these alert messages on television. In addition, people who are blind or visually impaired will have access on their radios to national alerts containing more detailed audio information. Clearer and more accessible alerts will help all Americans prepare for and respond to emergencies.

Visit the FCC website for more information.